Monday, August 25, 2008


Yesterday there was a chili cook-off at another apartment building nearby. The last chili events I'd been invited to were in northern México. That sentence might make a reader think I was about to come over all haughty about chili, but this is not the case. Honestly, I have little regard for American chili--since I'm a vegetarian--and didn't even attend the cook-off in Monterrey. American chili? Texan really. The cooks at those Mexican competitions were predominantly from the other side of the Rio, and the Lonestar style predominated: spicy cubes of tender steak in vaguely differentiated gravy, cooked for days, qualified by a quantity of alarms. Surely none of these pots had ever seen a vegetable; frequently, they had to be trashed after the chili acids had eaten through their bottoms. Texans seem to think this is great, but it doesn't align with traditional notions of chili according to me and Mexican grandmothers. "Chili" literally indicates a sauce made of peppers, the heat incidental to the flavor. The meals are chili with meat or chili with beans. I make it from peppers and fruits, minerals and leaves. I use it with beans. Of course, my product is the diametric opposite of Texan chili: vegetation without meat. Most chili dishes judged yesterday in Vietnam were from a place somewhere between these two poles. There was, however, one totally veggie dish I enjoyed. It was made from beans and tomatoes and corn. There was also one Texas-style pot of rich gravy, chunky with hunks of meat so large that it came off as more of a steak barbecue than a chili, really. Of course, Tex might be onto something satisfying after all: that Lonestar entry swept the competition, a resounding victory for latter-day chili traditionalists on two hemispheres. [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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